Best known as site of the University of the District of Columbia campus, a model of the concrete design popular in the 1970s, the Van Ness neighborhood also features a surprising amount of green space, from Soapstone Park to landscaping around the modern architecture that defines the Van Ness commercial corridor. The most distinctive structure must be the former Intelsat Headquarters, said to resemble “a flotilla of spacecraft.” Beyond is a hillside where the National Bureau of Standards laboratory complex once stood (you can still see the main entrance gate.) In the 1960s, the U.S. State Department, seeking to address the pressing real estate needs of foreign governments, redeveloped the land as the International Chancery Center, the largest collection of special-built embassy buildings in the city. Singapore, China, Kuwait, Nigeria and tiny Brunei Darussalam are countries whose embassies most successfully reflect the architectural character of their home countries. Van Ness is also where you’ll find “Sir Isaac Newton’s Tree,” one of the quirkiest sites in the city!
Led by Hayden